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ED 066 152 

JC 720 193 i. 




Springer, J. 

The High-Risk Student, the Community college and the 
Church as Advocate. 

May 72 



MF-S0.65 HC-S3.29 

♦Church Role; ♦Disadvantaged Groups; ♦Disadvantaged 
Youth; Educationally Disadvantaged; ♦Institutional 
Role; ♦Junior colleges; school Role 


This paper focuses an high-risk students and the 
challenge they present to the community college. The goals of the 
community college are analyzed and the problems encountered in 
reaching those goals are discussed. A summary of two workshops held 
in Chicago entitled "Long Range Results-Academic Supports for the 
Collegiate Black and Poor," and "Innovations in Recruiting the 
Culturally Different" is included in the appendix. .The question of 
whether the church can and should make a commitment in terms, of time, 
energy, and funds to change the odds conceraing the high-risk student 
in the community junior college is discussed. . (RG) 

<Tt 7Z0 193 ED 066152 





J. Springer 
May 1972 

Pennsylvania Baptist Foundation for Campus Ministry 
Fifth and Maryland Avenues 
Oakmont, Pennsylvania 15139 


SEP 271972 






By J Springer 

Introduction I wish to share with you a challenge, a dream, and a dilemma. 

All three (the challenge, the dream, and the dilemma) have to do with the growing 
number of community colleges and their attempt to serve those young people (and 
older citizens) who have been labeled ’high risk’ as far as traditional academic 
achievement is concerned. 

The challenge, what is it? It is hundreds of thousands of young people who 
are barely graduating from high school, yet who at one time possessed the potential 
to continue their education, to enhance their skills, to develop their imagination. 
For most of these young, the potential remains, but it now is defeated, smothered, 
overcome.- Somewhere, sometime, something went wrong. It may have been in the 
family. (Ne all know what tremendous pressures are directed against the family 
these days.) It may have been in the school that it first began. (We all know 
there are many obstacles to growth in our schools.) It may have been a number of 
factors from family, from the school, from the community, from the mass media which 
throttled the further development of these young people’s innate talents. Some- 
where, sometime, something went wrong. And here they arc now, standing at the very 
edge of society. Some are asleep, not knowing what is happening. Some are confused, 
knowing - yet not knowing enough. Some are angry, but not really knowing toward 
whom or what that anger should be directed. Most are frightened. Perhaps they 
will find a job, or something to busy their lives with. If they do find a job, 
the chances are very high that there is little future to it. The pay and oppor- 
tunity will sound tempting now, but in a few years they will know what it means to 
be caught in a dead-end job with no place to go but some other dead-end job. 

The dream, what is it? The dream is a group of educators who seek to reach 
out to these young people and provide them with a second chance. The dream is a 
group of educators who believe the potential is still present in these young 
people, who see strengths and virtues in other dimensions of these young pcople'c 
interactions with society. The dream is a college of educators who place as a 
high priority in their program the salvaging of these high-risk young people 
through the awakening of their innate potential for growth. The dream is a college 
which would see this task as a basic task, a fundamental task of this college in 
society, and not as a marginal task. The dream is a college which has these young 
people foremost in tlicir minds, and not as a novel afterthought. 

The dilemma ? The dilemma is that, on one hand, we have emerging across our 
nation the possibility of just such an institution. I refer to the community col- 
lege. On the other hand, we have a growing number of pressures and concerns which 
are either contesting or detracting from this task of salvaging our high-risk 
young. A struggle now is taking place. Decisions are being hammered out. The 
design of these colleges is now taking shape. The future of these high-risk young 
in each community is being weighed. The struggle is now. Today, I hope to en- 
courage you to join this struggle. 

But why do I address you as a churchman in this concern of mine? Why should 
I not address you as citizen? I address you as churchman because I think you can 
appreciate in a particular, unique way the challenge and dream I have just shared 




with you. As a person nurtured on the Judeo-Cnrictian vision, I think you can 
appreciate in a unique way the attempt of educators to go a second mile for some 
of our young, when all other institutions have the vision and the resources to go 
only the first mile. As a person committed xo the Judeo-Christian vision, I think 
you can deeply appreciate in a special way the vision of some educators who wish 
to reach out to those in our society who are being passed by 'on the other side'. 
As a person who is both judged and upheld by the Judeo-Christian vision, I think 
you- can particularly respond to an institution which seeks to give some of our 
young a second chance, a new opportunity, a new beginning that will break away the 
sufficating and defeating walls of past decisions and predicaments. I think you 
can understand that while, on one hand, the content and course offerings of such 
a college are representative of our; 20th Century technological-humanistic society, 
on the other hand the action, the drive, the style, the vision of such an institu- 
tion dates back to something very familiar and very holy to each one of us here. 
This is why I address you today as churchman, and not as citizen. 

One educator who has a committment to the high-risk student is Professor 
William Moore, Jr. Presently working at Ohio State, Dr. Moore was for fifteen 
years a teacher, reading clinician and administrator in the ghetto public schools 
in St. Louis. In 1965 he began working with the Forest Park Community College in 
St. Louis. Before taking his post at Ohio State, he was president of the Seattle 
Central Community College. Dr. Moore has written a book about his experiences 
with high-risk students. It's entitled A, 1 gainst the Odds . It's an angry book, but 
also a very suggestive and helpful one. Dr. Moore is angry because he feels that 
although there is much that can be done, there is little being accomplished. He 
feels the odds are still against the High-risk student, even in the community 
college. His book proves that much can be done, but he feels his work may be 
ignored. But not only his book proves that much can be done. Dr. Moore himself 
is an example of the high— risk student making it against the odds: 

I was a high— risk student. According to all of the evaluative 
predictors, I should never have gotten a college education. My 
aunt once told me that I would never finish high school; the high 
school counselor said I probably would not get to college; the 
college advisor said that I was net master's degree material; 
and my friends told me that the Ph.D was out of the question. 
Fortunately, I did not know it. Since completing my schooling, ' 

I have spent eighteen of my nineteen years in education working 
with children and young adults from slum schools who were not 
'• supposed to bo able to learn. (My experience) has convinced me 
v that low achievers can be helped if those charged with instructing 
them are committed. I am angry when educators fail to do so. (Xll)* 

In the remaining time 1 wish to share with you, first, Dr. Moore's analysis 
of the dilemma we mentioned at the beginning; second, some concerns resulting 
from two workshops held this spring concerning high-risk students; and finally, 
questions for you. 

* Moore, Jr., William, Against tho Odds. Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, 



To set the stage for the dilemma as analysed by Dr. Moore, we must first take 
a quick look at the range of goals which community colleges espouse. Community 
colleges are beginning to see themselves as a comprehensive institution with 
several goals to fulfill. In this comprehensive approach, the first goal is to 
provide a normal, typical educational experience for those young who wish to trans- 
fer to a four-year institution. This transfer program differs in no way from the 
first two years of most four-year schools, hence loss of transfer of credit is 
non-existent or minimal. A second goal in a comprehensive community college is to 
provide a high quality technical and vocational education for those young who wish 
to terminate their education within two years and move into employment. A third 
goal of our comprehensive institution (and here we begin to find the distinctive 
marks of the comprehensive community college) is the concern to provide a real 
service to their immediate community; hence there is a division within most colleges 
called ’community services’. In some community colleges this division is a small 
one. In others it stands out as the total philosophy of the school and all the 
other functions of the school fall in line behind it, including the two goals pre- 
viously mentioned. Community services means a number of things, but it at least 
means adult continuing education and sensitivity to the needs of the community’ s 
various organizations and sub-cultures. The fourth goal of the comprehensive 
community college could fall under the previous goal, or stand by itself with the 
previous goal as a philosophic basis: the salvaging of those young in the vicinity 

of the college who arc academic high risks. 

Mow let us look at the dilemma with this context of goals in mind. In looking 
over the past performance of community colleges in the mid-west and west, Dr. Moore 
charges the following: 

The dilemma is trying to provide a quality education for both the 
academically able student and the high-risk student. For the able 
student, the college does a creditable job. The faculty understands 
him and is happy to be associated with him because he is thought to 
be ’collogo material’. The school’s reputation is secure with the 
qualified student. His accomplishments establish and maintain a good 
image for the college and reinforce its stature. On the other hand, 
the community college has not learned how to deal with, and it cannot 
count on, tiio abilities of the marginal student. It has not developed 
the knowhow or the real commitment for dealing with him. His academic 
prowess does not have a history of reflecting on the college in a 
positive way - if at all. The fact that this student was accepted 
by the community college in the first place is considered by some 
persons as an inherent weakness of the college, (pg. ll) 

There are several components which make up this dilemma. Moore mentioned 
four: One , the community college is still searching for an identity. Is it an 

extension of high school, thus drawing its identity from the high school? Is it 
a feeder to four-year schools, hence deriving its identity from four-year colleges? 
If a community college derives its basic identity from cither of these institutions, 
it will not become a unique institution. If it looks at its own unique and dis- 
tinctive functions (goals 3 and 4 above), it could develop its own unique identity. 
This is part of the struggle now taking place at most community colleges. A second 
component creating the dilemma is the education explosion. More and more able stu- 
dents arc seeking admission to our colleges and universities. The four— year 

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schocls and universities are having to turn down more and more able students. 

Where then can they go? Why, to their own community college back home which would 
be delighted to have them. Given this influx of able students, the goal to solicit 
and serve the high-risk students begins to bo pushed aside. (Given the influx of 
able^ students, how will the decision go when students will have to be turned away 
from -the community college? Will all able students be admitted and no high-risk 
students? Will a quota system be employed? If so, how high will the percentage 
be for a high-risk student r) A third component of the dilemma is the lack of 
research regarding high-risk students. One one hand, we have an abundance of re- 
search on the able and excellent student who occasionally needs assistance; and 
on the other hand, we have very little research for the student who needs under- 
standing and support in a drastic way. The fourth component of the dilemma is the 
faculty. Many faculty do not appreciate the presence of the nigh-risk student. 

They do not know how to tcacli him. He shows up the faculty's limitations. The 
faculty have little to no research to draw upon. And even if research were avail- 
able (and there is some) most colleges provide no reward system or recognition for 
those who do achieve with the high-risk student. The importance of the faculty's 
ability and attitude is so important that Moore begins on. the first page "of his 
book with the following: 

One of the significant i confrontations of the marginal student is his 
encounter with the opinion of his teachers. The collective attitude 
of the majority of his instructors is that he cannot learn. He per- 
ceives their attitude through the persistent, intangible, and 
undefined gut-feedback one gets when he knows he is not wanted. 

Because of this sensitivity, hundreds of his questions go unasked. 
Thousands go unanswered. He is the victim of the dictum: you have 
to bo one to teach one. Many accept poor teaching for him as 
legitimate. The marginal student makes mistakes and sees his pro- 
fessors look the other way because they know neither how nor what to 
teach him. Some instructors who feel that tlie student cannot do the 
work do not challenge him. Some become his pal and let him get by... 
Other teachers challenge him beyond his capabilities, seeking to 
prove that he has no place in college. In either case, it is a fair 
statement that as a whole, those charged with assisting him devote 
little more than a backyard effort to the task. Pew speak his 
language and understand his feelings. Power still tolerate his 
learning style. The term 'remedial' is spoken like a dirty word by 
many, including his college-age peers who are in the academic liier- 
c.i.'ches abovo him. (pages 1 and 2) 

Is there any way wc can obtain a neat profile of this high-risk student? 

Not really, answers Moore. • There arc many more differences than there are 
similarities among our high-risk young. The stereotype that they are either black 
or low-income white must be discarded. They come from the rich suburbs and from 
the ghettos. To illustrate his point Moore provides us with ton case studies in 
the book. His point is well made. Two things, however, can bo stated in general. 
The first one is an overall statement about high-risk students. The second is a 
general statement about one sub-culture of high-risk students: the black young. 

High-risk students who enroll in the community college are (at the 
time of their admission) operating in the society at a level higher 
than their achievement scores on subject-matter testing instruments 

- 5 - 

indicatc they arc able* Marginal students have mastered most of the 
necessary skills, knowledges, "behaviors , laws, and other confronta- 
tions with the* culture- with satisfactory results, or, at least, 
acceptable results, except, the academic dimensions, which they can 
still learn, (pg. jl) 

The black student who is educationally, socially, and economically 
disadvantaged is likely to bo quite different when compared to the 
white student of the same class* He does not believe in God, Mother, 
and Country with the same fervor as his white couterpart or his own 
parents. He is candid, not given to the little charades of guile. 

If he docs not like the teacher, he does not pretend to like him. 

The black student has few heroes. He knows that society destroys 
its heroes even while it creates them; so lie looks for the* feet of 
clay earlier. He can probably take disappointments better because 
in his world disappointment is a way of life. The black student will 
tend to be more worldly though less sophisticated academically. 

He shows much more ingenuity outside of the classroom. Inside the 
classroom his has always been more of a spectator than a participant... 
The black student is probably more tolerant of injustice, stupidity, 
dirt, profanity, sarcasm and illegitamacy. He chooses his leaders 
from among those who can best represent him. Ho is willing to listen 
and associate with students that school officials do not consider 
good citizens because he does not feel that association produces 
contamination. The black student does not confide in his parents. 

He will rarely lot a teacher or referee or some other arbiter handle 
. the problem of confrontation betwoon himself and another. He has 
been independent too long for that and he has had to solve his own * 
problems and often boar his own misfortune without assistance, 

. sympathy, or compromise. Many of those students. • .have been completely 
on their own sinco their early teens and have had to function as adults - 
and in all of the dimensions of adulthood - while playing the role of 
children in school, (pg. 49 - 50 ) 

The above two quotes indeed underline the key in salvaging these young from 
dead end futures. It is to know that there are present many strengths and virtues 
now in operation in those young. It is to begin with these strengths and build 
from there a program which will strengthen their academic abilities. It is to 
begin by believing in tho student, not because it is nice to do so, but because it 
is valid to do so. 

Because it is valid to believe in these young, Moore's book is not just a 
criticism of community colleges or an exercise in wishful thinking. His book is 
a how-to bock. Ho takes away the excuses of any college administration or faculty 
or student personnel that they have no guidelines or models. His book gets about 
as specific as one can got. In terms of salvaging our young high-risk students, 
the question is r.o longer "Can it be done?" With Moore’s book the question now 
turns to "Will it he done?" 

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On March 27 and 28 of this year, I attended two workshops in Chicago that 
were *a part of the annual convention of the American Personnel and Guidance 
Association. The two workshops were entitled "Long Range Results - Academic 
Supports for the Collegiate Black and Poor" and "Innovations in Recruiting the 
Culturally Different"* My summation of the issues and conclusions of these 
workshops is available in a two-page paper which you may pick up upon the con- 
clusion of this address (see appendix). I went to the workshop with great expecta- 
tions and hope. I was both excited and deeply disappointed. My disappointment 
was due entirely to the few people and institutions at this annual meeting who 
took the time to attend these workshops. My excitement was due entirely to the 
quality of the workshop and the people there present. But I did not miss the 
point. Those concerned about the high-ri sk students, those educators who have the 
vision and the commitment are also working against the odds . Appropriate enough, 
Dr. Moore was one of the participants. The workshops demonstrated to me that 
Dr. Moore’s illustrations of success are not isolated. There are a growing number 
of persons' and institutions working hard for the high-risk student. But the odds 
are still against them. 



Which brings mo to the concluding remarks of this presentation. My remarks 
to follow are but variations on one thematic question: will the church, at a 

local level and at a regional and national level, help change the odds in favor of 
salvaging our high-risk young? Will the church commit time, energy, funds, to 
wrestle with how this might best be accomplished? Will the church seek ways to 
become an advocate with otnors for the rights of the high-risk young and the unique 
task which the community college can offer hero. Will the church risk a critical 
role in chastizing those collegos which offer much in ter-ms of talk but nothing in 
terms of resources when it comes to the high-risk student? 

In my study and in rr\y attendance at workshops I have come to appreoiato the 
fact that a quality program for the high-risk student is a tremendous undertaking. 

It would appear to mo that only the community college can take on this task ser- 
iously and with long-range commitment. Other colleges will not see this program as 
deriving from their basic educational assumptions, thus when they do develop such 
programs (and there arc now over 1000 colleges offering such programs) they will 
be marginal programs incidental and vuncrable to the major drives of the college. 

Only in the community college docs such a program receive fundamental support from 
the very educational assumptions cf the college. This docs not mean that this is 
the only function of a community college, but it does mean that it is one of the 
major functions, and not a marginal, incidental program tacked on as an afterthought. 

"But," you say, '"you have already indicated that even the community college is 
not really open to this function." -Yes, I have indicated such, but the options are 
still open. Many of our community colleges need to be reminded of this function, 
and be reminded of their basic educational assumptions of serving the educational 
needs of the community. Even when a community college has turned a corner away from 
the high-risk student, the accumptions, the foundations for service to the high 
risk remain, and therefore can be raised again and again. Not so at other institu- 
tions of higher education. The question is not whether the community college will 
respond. The real questions for us arc "Will you and I advocate for the high—: risk 
program in the community college?" "Will you and I help change the odds?" "Will 
you and I go one mile and do our homework and present our concerns?" Will you and I 
and the church go the sceond mile and provide our time and the use of our buildings?" 



American Personnel and. Guidance Association (APGA) workshops held on March 27 and 
28 in Chicago. Highlights selected by J Springer. 

Workshop #1. Long-Range Results - Academic Supports for the Collegiate Black 
and Poor 

A. Research is both an educational and a political necessity if a group desires to 
change policy and program of an institution of higher education regarding the high- 
risk student. Research and evaluation of one's program with high-risk students is 
of fundamental value if one is to educate one's college and if one is to take away 
the many excuses and obstacles placed in the way of high-risk students. 

B. Traditional admission testing tools are quite irrelevant and usually harmful 
when applied to high-risk students. 

C. Traditional vocational tests are highly inadequate because they assume an 
acquaintance and understanding of many kinds of vocations. Most high-risk students 
have a low vocational vocabulary. One investigation in Iowa indicated that many 
students dropped out of the program because they still did not know what they wanted 
to do with their opportunity for education. Very crucial to understand this lack 

of vocational vocabulary, and to provide vocational mini-experience during the 
early part of one's college experience to both expand the vocabulary and to have 
somo reality testing to see- if that really is something the student wishes. 

D. Although relevant raid developmental courses are extremely important, even more 
important is the attitude of the staff working with the high-risk student. The 
staff must believe that the student can roally make it. If the staff believes in 
the student, the student will have more motivation to believe in himself. 

E. In evaluating and counseling a student, start with the student's strengths, not 
with his weaknesses. Look for the reasons why he can make it in college, not for 
the reasons ho might not. Begin with where the student is and move from there. 

P. Dr. Marcus Bell of the Office of Education indicated that there are now 1000 
colleges offering programs for high-risk students. The Office is now beginning to 
inspect and evaluate these programs. Behind this inspection is the question, "To 
what extent do we allow colleges to program for high-risk students?" Bell ques- 
tioned the quality of many of these programs. 

G. A plan in operation for the past three years with thirteen black colleges was 
reported on. These thirteen schools developed a total new curriculum for a pro- 
portion of their students which was based on the assumption that educating for 
blacks is different from educating for whites. Additional assumptions were that 
there must be respect for the teacher and for the student, and, that developmental 
education should bo the philosophy of education. Results: 59^ of those partaking 

the courses graduated in four years, which is unheard of in Black Colleges. The 
curriculum design is now being appropriated by. other Black Colleges in the South. 

Dr. Fred Humphries, who gave this report, urged those who are developing curricu— 
lums to draw upon the roaourccs and research of this program. 

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Workshop #2 Innovations in Recruiting and Retaining the Culturally Different 
Part One - Recruiting* 

A. Are high school students not in the college preparatory curriculum en- 
couraged to consider college in your community? 

B. You must got the word out to the student's turf, to whci'e he hangs out, 
to his sub-culture. You must make the first step. 

C. In recruitment, don't make promises you cannot keep. 

D. If you wish a model of imagination for recruitment, see what your college 
coach does. He's been recruiting for years and knows how and where to go. 

Part Two - Retaining 

A. In terms of retention, Curtin Leonard of Temple urged that the counselor 
of the marginal student needed to focus primarily upon growth and personal account- 
ability, and secondarily upon grade' upgrading. Bo the first and the second will 
follow. Leonard also suggested that the counselor begin to. monitor the classrooms, 
and that the counselor take on more aggressive action. In the final analysis, 
Leonard felt that tlio real client for the counselor was not the student, bub the 
sick institution. 

B# Mr. James Griggs, Circle Campus of the University of Illinois, made a 
strong argument for the demise of non-credit remedial programs. He was able to 
establish credit for his supposedly remedial work whon he was able to jump his 
students from remedial courses to second level credit courses. (An interesting 
by-product here is that through imaginative teaching, the campus is beginning to 
look at what Griggs is doing as a model for their regular programs.) 

C. . Dr. William Moore got very specific about the marginal student. Whether 
a new program has boon imaginatively designed for this marginal student, or whether 
he faces a traditional program, that student still has to make it, now that he is 
there. What can you do? First, you take awqv his excuses : l) Throw away the 

catalogue and simplify for him the critical dates and requirements. Post the 
critical dates in the classrooms and in the bathrooms. 2) Concerning the fifteen 
to twenty forms he has to fill out, make little cards summarizing these forms and 
scatter across the campus. 3) Before enrolling, bring them tc the campus early 
and give them a dry run of the places and the lines he will have to put up with 
when he docs enroll. Registration is bad enough for the 'average' student. 

4) Assign these students an cider student who functions as a keeper (keep him in 
school) and pay the keeper on the basis of retention . 5) Choose your counselor 
very carefully. They too have hang-ups. They should not be dealing with life 
styles as if they are mental pathologies. 6) Make sure your student knows who and 
what to avoid. Find those professors who will go another step for the student, 
who will counsel as well as teach and grade. 7) Counselor, make sure you are on 
the curriculum committee. You should be involved as part of tho teaching team. 

* In his book, Agai nst the Odds . William Koorc quotes B. M. Knoell from an article 
of hers in Junior CoiloA'o Journal . 1968, 39» pg» 9~1I, entitled "Are Our Colleges 
Really Accessible to the Poor?" Moore's quote appears in his book on page 95* 

Bo admissions procedures make it easy to admit and offer financial aid 
to the disadvantaged applicant who "discovers" the college too late 
to meet tho admission date? Boos the college have unconventional means 
of seeking, informing, and assisting the disadvantaged who might otherwise 
be passed by? Are funds available for testing, physical exams, evaluation 
of financial need, transportation, formal application for admission, and 
other fees? Is some financial aid available for very poor high-risk 
students, or is it given only to "safe" students? Does the admissions 
office use students to recruit? Arc special .recruitment materials and 
techniques employed to reach disadvantaged students in high school and in 
the community? CT 

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